Hakka Affairs Council

Music & Drama

Instrument

Banhu Fiddle

  • Post Date:2006-01-12
Banhu Fiddle

This is commonly called “Head strings,” and has also been named “Shell strings,” “Coconut Fiddle,” “Ti strings,” “Banghu,” “Small Banghu,” “Qinhu,” and “Big strings.”

It is very different from the Huqin. There is no sound box, and only 2 strings. The fiddle’s box is made of coconut shell in a semicircle shape. The front is covered with copper sheet. The bow is made of hardwood, and the bridge of bamboo. The strings are steel; originally, they were silk, but most have been changed to steel now. Its tone is bright and loud, so it is also called the “Coconut Fiddle.” It comes in treble, alto, and bass. The tone is clear and mellow, giving a feeling of space and distance. The bass range is solid and strong but not dull. It is good for gentle melodies. The alto range is clear and full, and resonant. It is good for lively, brisk and joyful music. The treble is sharp, tense and thin. It is acceptable for gentle playing, but noisy if played strongly, so it is only used occasionally for special effects. The higher reaches of the treble are hoarse and dry, so they are used very rarely.

It is a Beiguan instrument that plays an important role in Hakka Eight Tones. It is not only used solo and in ensemble playing, “Shell strings” are popular for all kinds of music apart from Nanguan, like “Taiping songs,” “ Chegu,” and the rear court of Peking opera. It is also the main instrument in the Beiguan’s “Fulu opera”.

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